(WXYZ) — The 7 Investigators were the first to expose questions about the prosecution of a police officer and his stepfather. Ultimately, Attorney General Dana Nessel dismissed the charges she filed against the two men, who say they were falsely accused of molesting a young girl. Now, that police officer is suing the officers and prosecutors who put him behind bars for 151 days.
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Sean MacMaster was arrested two years ago on May 7, 2019. He alleges in a new federal lawsuit that the criminal probe was launched to “benefit a romantic relationship” with a former assistant attorney general’s girlfriend.
“This cost him his job. It cost him his reputation. It cost him his relationship with his child,” said attorney Josh Blanchard, who represents MacMaster.
MacMaster was a police lieutenant in Florida when he was charged by Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel. MacMaster and his stepfather, Larry Orr, were accused of sexually assaulting MacMaster’s young daughter at Orr’s home in Oxford, Michigan. Both men denied the claims, and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
“You think about the allegations you can make against someone – those are the worst of the worst,” Blanchard said.
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After the 7 Investigators first exposed serious questions about the MacMaster case in 2019, the charges were later dropped.
Central to the case was former Assistant Attorney General Brian Kolodziej. The career prosecutor resigned in 2019 after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a victim in a different sex crimes case in Isabella County. Kolodziej was charged in December with two counts of misconduct in office for that case. He pleaded not guilty to those charges.
Now Kolodziej is being sued and accused of violating MacMaster’s constitutional rights in several ways, including malicious prosecution and excessive pretrial punishment for his detention.
“He did 151 days in solitary confinement. During that time he was allowed one hour a day out of his cell," Blanchard said. "He was allowed one hour a week of rec time.”
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Blanchard says the case started when MacMaster’s ex-wife, Johanna, accused Sean of abusing their young daughter as part of a contentious custody battle. Police say in 2016, a recording reveals how she offered to stop a criminal probe in exchange for MacMaster terminating his parental rights.
“I can give you a get-out-of-jail-free card and I can help you,” said Johanna on the recording obtained by the 7 Investigators.
The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office investigated the abuse claims twice, and both times prosecutors would not issue charges.
“The prosecutor’s office had assistant prosecutors that specialize in child sexual assault cases review our files, and they agreed that it was not there,” said Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe in late 2020 about the lack of evidence in the case.
Child Protective Services investigated three times, the FBI looked at the allegations, as well as the Michigan State Police Lapeer Post. None of that resulted in prosecution.
Blanchard alleges in the lawsuit that Kolodziej dated Johanna MacMaster’s cousin when he worked as an assistant Macomb County prosecutor before moving to the attorney general’s office in 2018. The lawsuit alleges Kolodziej shopped the case around with police friends, and eventually got it going once he worked for the state.
“Brian Kolodziej was acting outside of his role as a prosecutor and then taking steps to cover up his involvement as an investigator: placing other lawyers' names on documents, drafting letters and having other people sign them,” Blanchard said.
MacMaster is also suing Michigan State Police Trooper David Busacca, Center Line Public Safety Detective Michael Gerald, Attorney General Special Agent Lauren Schipani, Johanna MacMaster, and Nessel’s former Chief of Staff Laura Moody for their roles in the case.
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The lawsuit alleges Kolodziej crossed the line several times with Johanna and the alleged child victim in the case by taking them to the Detroit Institute of Arts, having squirt gunfights, and taking them on a private tour of the state Capitol.
Blanchard also alleges Kolodziej and Busacca gave judges false and misleading information in order to obtain search warrants and changed police reports.
“Prosecutors aren’t supposed to be acting as investigators," Blanchard said. "They’re not supposed to be manipulating evidence – frankly they’re supposed to be seeking justice and nothing that happened, in this case, resembled a search for justice in any way."
The 7 Investigators are reaching out to the named defendants for comment on this lawsuit. In the past, Johanna MacMaster and Brian Kolodziej have not responded to requests for comment on the case.
Lynsey Mukomel, Press Secretary for the Attorney General, said in reference to Special Agent Lauren Schipani being named in the lawsuit, "We can't comment on something we haven't seen." Federal lawsuits are publicly available in an online filing system through the U.S. District Court.
In a previous story, Trooper Busacca responded to allegations made by other law enforcement officers that Busacca had been dishonest by calling them “false and unsubstantiated accusations.”